April 6, 2021

How Kara Goldin Turned a Personal Need into a Thriving Brand- Hint Water Ep. 12


Kara Goldin is the Founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., best known for its award-winning Hint water, the leading unsweetened flavored water. She has received numerous accolades, including being named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 Northern California and one of InStyle’s 2019 Badass 50.  Previously, Kara was VP of Shopping Partnerships at America Online. She hosts the podcast The Kara Goldin Show. Her first book, Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters, was released October 2020 and is now a WSJ and Amazon Best Seller. 

Where to Find Kara 

Instagram: @karagoldin

Twitter: @karagoldin

Facebook: Kara Goldin

Youtube: Kara Goldin

LinkedIn: Kara Goldin

Website: https://karagoldin.com/undaunted

Book: Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters

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Transcript
Kara Goldin:

I think if you actually continue to put the walls up in front of yourself and make them a huge deal, then you won't go often. You won't try.

Natasha:

Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their business? How did they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit? These and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

I'm putting the finishing touches on a digital course for entrepreneurs to learn how to scale and grow their companies and find more profit in their current revenue. To download the free profit finder guide that I've created and also to put yourself on the waitlist for the course, go to natashamiller.co.

Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Hint Inc., best known for its award-winning Hint Water. Her first book "Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters" was released October 2020 and is now a Wall Street Journal and Amazon bestseller. I have to talk to Kara about her journey from business idea that solved a personal problem to successful corporation that has launched products from water to deodorant, to sunscreen.

Kara Goldin:

So over the years I've met so many people who have asked me, were you born this way? Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? And I've thought a lot about it and it wasn't really even what I thought I was going to do. I didn't think I wasn't going to do it either. But I think that more than anything, what I've realized is that entrepreneurs can come from anywhere.

You could be born with it. You could decide that you never want to work for anyone. I've met those entrepreneurs as well. But for me, my road to being an entrepreneur was really seeing this problem that I had with my health and I had a solution that I stumbled upon just in trying to solve this health issue.

I was a tech executive. I actually was a journalism major with a minor in finance and started my career at Time Magazine and ended up getting recruited out of there to a late stage startup that is funny for me to even talk about it that way that everybody knows now called CNN. So I was there in the very, very early days.

And then came to Silicon Valley from New York. Again, I didn't like a lot of other people have this bug to go and be in a startup or anything like that, but I was somewhat fascinated by what Steve Jobs had done and what I had seen him do. And so I had looked. A startup that had spun out of Apple because I thought they're never going to hire me at Apple because I don't have any experience.

That was probably one of my first big doubts that I had thinking that they'll never be interested in me because I don't really have the right experience. Anyway, I went and worked for a startup. We ended up getting acquired. That startup that I cold called, that was five guys and not in a garage, but in a very small office and America Online acquired us about six months after I got there.

That's when I really established myself in tech and I was the youngest Vice President at AOL, one of the few women at my level. And it was a wild ride. I went through what's turned the hockey stick of a company. And then it leveled off after about six years, the growth around e-commerce.

So it was like nothing when I got there until it was over a billion dollars in revenue. And still didn't say I was going to leave and go start my own thing. It was when I was taking a couple of years off in San Francisco, I had three young kids at the time. And really tried to test this idea around fixing my own health.

I had tried a number of diets. I was looking at ingredients for the first time and I was primarily looking at ingredients and food and never really had looked at ingredients in my water, or eventually water, but my drink. And that's when I really decided just to do a test, to see what would happen and swap out my diet soda, Diet Coke in particular, for plain water.

And I couldn't believe in two and a half weeks, I lost 24 pounds and my acne cleared up my energy levels were different. And it was crazy. And I think that's when I really had an epiphany thinking. I always knew that water was better for me, but water just is blank. And some people really like it a lot, but I just didn't. I was honest with myself about the reason why, and that's when I thought, I wonder if I just throw a slice of cucumber or raspberries in there, if that will actually change the situation for me.

And that's what I did in my kitchen, still not even thinking that this was my next company or the new product of the year or whatever. But that's when I started shopping at Whole Foods that had just come into the Bay Area.

And I thought if any store would have this product, it would be Whole Foods. And this product that I was trying to buy, which was fruit and water, no sweeteners and no preservatives. And that was really where we started. I remember friends saying to me, when I finally got the product on the shelf at Whole Foods, they said, that's so cool that you start a company.

And I said, is it a company? I don't know if it's a company because I've worked at a lot of companies and they have a lot of revenue and people and products, and I'm just launching. I have three skews. I don't even think I knew it was called a skew at the time, and I'm putting it on the shelf at Whole Foods and hopefully people will buy it.

That's what I'm doing. And I'm driving my grand Cherokee around San Francisco, trying to get it into stores. And I was having a great time, but it really was not as big and daunting. I just never let it get there, which is something I talk about a lot that I think if you actually continue to put the walls up in front of yourself and make them a huge deal, then you won't go often. You won't try, which I think is such an important thing.

Natasha:

Just listening to you now and it didn't occur to me before and even reading the book, have you ever measured how much sugar you are ingesting with Diet Coke in a week, if you were to add it all up?

Kara Goldin:

So when I started Hint 15 years ago, diet drinks were 10 calories. They hadn't perfected zero calories yet. And remember, it wasn't sugar.

Natasha:

That's right.

Kara Goldin:

It's diet.

Natasha:

It's still horrible.

Kara Goldin:

It's these diet sweeteners. And it's interesting because so many people would say to me, wait a minute, you were drinking Diet Coke, and by stopping drinking it, then this happened. These are diet sweeteners.

It's interesting because the soda industry would actually tell you that their intention of creating a diet drink, and I'm sure the food industry talking about diet cookies or low fat or any of these things, is that it's actually better for you and healthier. That is not their intention. Yes. The consumer thinks it is.

So I started realizing this early on how I had been tricked and fooled into believing that this 10 calorie thing was better for me. Yet, clearly it wasn't. And I had to rid my body from it, what I do think and I never actually counted, I was never a calorie counter because I never had an issue until I started.

Natasha:

Until you had an issue.

Kara Goldin:

Yeah, until I had an issue and then it was really bad. What's interesting is I think, and a lot of data has come out about this now, but the thing that is really tricky about these diets sweeteners is that, there's been studies that show that it actually causes you to overeat and crave sweet and potentially crave sugar or crave other diet sweetener.

Natasha:

That's a catalyst in addition to being harmful.

Kara Goldin:

Exactly. And so I used to chew gum a lot, or have a piece of candy in between my Diet Cokes. I was never a Diet Pepsi drinker. I was always a Diet Coke drinker, but I used to have want just something. And now that I know more about how the brain reacts to these sweeteners and particularly diet sweeteners, your brain is actually thinking that it needs another fix.

It's very similar in many ways to how any addictive substance works. We know what happened with the cigarette industry and tobacco. And yet it's a very interesting and very sad situation when I really think that the consumer just is so not armed to really understand what they're doing and they've gotten into a habit.

Natasha:

Work smoke and mirrors right?

Kara Goldin:

It's really incredibly sad. And frankly, when I started thinking more and more about how I remember drinking my first Diet Coke, my mom was a big Tab drinker. I remember drinking my first Diet Coke when I was a teenager. And if you look at, and this is all public information, frankly, but if you look at where these diet drinks focus their advertising, they focus on teenage girls. Not just teenagers. They focus on teenage girls. So the number one consumer, that's the entry point. And so they do things that actually try and grab teenage girls.

Natasha:

Right, and their brains aren't fully formed until they're 24. And once they are, then they're hooked for life. They don't really have to market to them anymore.

Kara Goldin:

No because they just keep drinking it and thinking that they're doing the right thing. And so I, of course, wasn't going to drink Tab because I didn't like the taste of it, but also that was my mom's drink.

And it's so interesting because grabbing somebody, if you get them while they're in high school, or maybe they're going to university, it's addictive and they just start to get it. And then they don't actually look at what they're putting into their body. They just are told, go exercise more. Lead a healthier lifestyle.

And that was me. I was doing all of those things as well, but I had never really thought about, maybe it's actually something in my existing diet. I kept thinking I need to go do more and more. It's a really bad cycle. And I've spoken a lot about this, that I just think it's really shameful.

And frankly, the other thing that I saw going on and saw it even more when we launched Hint, as I started to hear from consumers, but about 2% of the population back in 2005, had the sine called type two diabetes. It was brand new. I had a friend, she still works at the center for disease control, who was sharing information with me around this new disease called type two diabetes.

How a lot of the people who were getting this disease actually claim to be counting calories, drinking diet, eating low fat, and yet they were getting this disease and they just didn't understand it. For those of you who don't know, it's different than type one diabetes, you're not born with it. They're just still not really clear exactly.

But it made me start to, and again, it was 2% of the population, I thought, "Nah, it's 2%." It's not big, but the number of people when we got our product on the shelf at Whole Foods, the first thing that we started hearing from customers was, "Thank you so much for developing this drink that helps me drink more water, control my type two diabetes, lose weight."

We don't make any health claims. Other than that, we're like, if you think water's healthier for you, you might like our product. And that's all we do. And so putting like that email and that phone number on the bottle, don't tell anybody, but I was the customer service person. So I was answering all those back in the early days.

And it was fascinating to me how these people said, they were almost apologizing saying, "I don't know how I got this disease called type two diabetes. I run marathons. I'm going to yoga class," all of these things. And they were just confused by it. And again, long-winded answer to say if we actually know that these kind of people that are really trying, that think that they're doing the right things and maybe they're chopping at the healthier and better for your stores, and they're counting calories, if we know that they're getting diseases like type two diabetes, which uncontrolled, set you on course for a lot of challenges and other diseases, if we know that, then why do we allow these diet sweeteners to be on the market?

Natasha:

Exactly. Right.

Kara Goldin:

And then you look at pharmaceutical companies and they're actually profit.

Natasha:

There's a lot of money behind it. That's why. And it's going to take a huge force to reconcile with that. I'm wondering if you have refrigerators or vending machines in high schools and colleges?

Kara Goldin:

Yeah. We've had vending machines. In fact, early on another story, I remember, I don't even know how they got it in there, but there was a high school in New Mexico and there was a young woman who I talked about this story in my book, there was a young woman who reached out to us and said, "Thank you you so much. I've been drinking your product. It's in the vending machine."

She actually wrote how she realized that with the strength that she's no longer drinking, some of the other drinks that she was drinking and she replaced it. And she said, I don't know what you put in here, but it's actually making me lose weight.

And some of these other things that she was trying to straighten out. I think that's the thing that's interesting. There's many people who are not trying to lose weight, who are drinking our product. But I think what's fascinating is your immediate reaction that we hear from consumers who are drinking Hint that feel compelled to write to us and share their story is, "I was always feeling like I was doing something wrong.

And then suddenly I came across your drink and started drinking it. And then I realized that just by drinking your drink, I was actually giving up something that I thought was better for me." And it's counter to what we're trained. I think we're trained by so many companies out there and products out there to really think that we're doing something wrong and here's the correct thing.

And that's never been our target. Our target's been, if you don't like water, then you might want to try Hint. Maybe you don't, but you might want to try it. It's fascinating how we hear back from consumers that they were feeling hopeless. A lot of the time that Hint is often their first step in knowing that they can do it.

Natasha:

Yeah and they might not have to do a whole lot more after they switch to Hint that can increase energy. You can lose weight, you can be drinking. Just drinking more water in general is a great cleansing situation. So I listened to your book. Your team sent me the PDF, which I really appreciated it, but I really wanted to hear you voice it in your own voice. But I really liked listening to the book because, I haven't read it, so I don't know the difference, but I really wanted to hear your voice before we did this interview instead of just read the text. And when I was listening to it, I thought, oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, does Kara knows Sarah Blakely. Do you?

Kara Goldin:

I do not.

Natasha:

Okay but you know how close your stories are in how you are treated by the organizations that create the bottling and the essences and the packaging. I listened to one of her interviews on how I built this. And I thought, oh my gosh, Sarah and Kara?

Kara Goldin:

We should kick it on the road. A lot lot of people have told us that.

Natasha:

Yeah. There's something about YouTube that is very similar in personality.

Oh honey. Oh sweetie. Oh, that's cute. That's never going to work. Look at you now, like that's pretty amazing.

So I will put that out in the world and maybe you and Sarah need to meet up. And it would be great to hear you guys talk about your similar experiences and hear you recognize and mirror some of what you experienced. And, she has four kids, but I'd love to give you this Kara Goldin. She did not have four kids when she was starting. And you have three and one on the way.

Kara Goldin:

Oh my gosh. That is so great. I would love to have a conversation with her.

Natasha:

Okay. The book has one title, but then what do you call that? The subtitle? But Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters. So I already know this, but I want my listeners, who are mostly entrepreneurs, to hear what kind of doubts and the people doubting you, you experienced, and then how you just push through mentally, physically, however it was that you had to.

Kara Goldin:

I think so often to people, they put these entrepreneurs in this place of being unicorns and they just snap their fingers and they became successful or lucky. Lucky is one of my favorite ones. And I just know how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and how much work goes into it.

And even on the other end of the spectrum, we hear about companies and entrepreneurs that have failed. That there's always something that goes on in the middle and including feeling fearful and maybe daunted by something. And maybe there's little failures that happen or challenges that we just don't really hear about until there's a unicorn.

Then we probably never hear about those challenges and failures or there's a bigger failure and that's the end. So I had plenty and part of the reason why I decided to publish this book is I've shared them with entrepreneurs over the years or people thinking, should I go do it or not?

And I felt that so many entrepreneurs, Sarah Blakely as well, where there's been challenges and reasons that they weren't able to do what they've done. But I would say, gosh, so many along the way. Everything from actually getting the product on the shelf at Whole Foods, people said, "Gosh, you were so brave. You are obviously a fearless risk taker."

And I'm like, no, I just have ideas. I'm curious. And then I decided to go do them. And then sometimes even when I'm driving to Whole Foods, I'm thinking, oh my gosh, what if they say no? What if they don't want to put it on the shelf? What will happen? And I think that we all have those times when it's very right to put yourself out there to know that you potentially can fail. If you do something and nobody likes to fail. It's a very uncomfortable situation for anybody it's uncomfortable for people when you really want somebody to say yes, and then they're going to say no, but I think just know that those things are going to happen.

More than anything. I now connect the dots along the way, too. When I look at some of my most challenging times, or also look at times in history, it's like the financial crisis for everybody in 2008 and 2009. Some of the things that we were faced with. Some of the times it didn't go exactly the way that we wanted it to. We're looking at today and the pandemic and how we reacted and how we moved on things and things that we knew that we had to get done.

Those often came from the lessons that I learned. Frankly, the confidence I learned from so many of these challenges before. So none of it was for, I'm a huge believer that things happen for a reason. And sometimes we don't know why they happen when you're in.

Natasha:

You don't really realize when you're very young, that is a thing. And that it is very important to acknowledge that things happen for a reason and the no's or some of the rejections are actually, they're not a dead end. It's actually rerouting you.

Kara Goldin:

Totally. And it's rerouting you. But it's also another thing I talk about in the book, because when we were kicked out or removed, however you want to look at, it from Starbucks, that was 40% of our overall business. And what I learned, not only from that experience when we were removed from there, is that when you have your lifeline in the hands of somebody else and it's 40% of your overall business, it's a miracle that we didn't close down at that point. Because it almost tanked the business.

Was I unhappy at the moment with Starbucks? A thousand percent. There were pieces of that which I still can't explain, but what I realized is that, what I can control is how much I'm going to put into a third party to make a decision on my life. And that is really such a key learning and something that I will carry with me throughout Hint and any other things that I do because you have these experiences that are hard and challenging. You take those with you. And frankly, my sales team, they've been reminded of that situation multiple times because I won't let it go.

Natasha:

And you won't let your company, I'm going to assume now that you've learned the lesson, it also propelled you to a different place of success. You probably won't allow anyone to account for 40% of your business.

Kara Goldin:

Totally.

Natasha:

And will you allow up to 20%? What is your threshold for tolerance?

Kara Goldin:

It depends. It depends on what it is. I think more than anything, it's a bigger sort of plan of make sure that you're diversified and that you have multiple channels. Today we get revenue from retailers, whether it's specialty, retail, or club or whatever, or regular retail, as well as our direct to consumer business.

And even our direct to consumer business we have some that is run by us, and then we also have Amazon. And then our third kind of big channel of revenue is corporate food service. When all the offices closed down in the US in March, throughout the US, we're going to lose 15% of our overall business.

15% is a lot but it's not 40. But still, because we had these other revenue channels, then it wasn't going to tank the business. If you look at a business that is totally getting revenue from only advertising, right? It's the same theory. It doesn't matter if you're in the beverage industry or if you're in some other industry, you try and figure out your options.

Natasha:

When you're starting out and you land an account like Starbucks and it is 40% of your business, you're probably not in the middle of that wonderful business thinking, "Oh my God, we have to diversify." You're probably thinking "This is amazing." And then as you mature and the things happen to you, then you can have that thought.

We've got this big account. That's great. Let's celebrate that, but we have to make sure that we're diversified because nothing is forever.

Kara Goldin:

All I'm saying is, don't extend the honeymoon for too long. Somebody gave me some super valuable advice early on, which I still go back to so often, which I think is super, super valuable that, when you're in a situation where you have something great happen to you like a Starbucks or you get into these big accounts, that's when you have to understand that it's pick and shovel work. And I remember hearing that for the first time thinking, okay, what is pick and shovel work? And it's tedious, but it's also knowing that you can't just stop.

And that's the thing. It talks about life in many ways. That theory too, that if you just sit there and you go get a job and then you're happy. Everything's great. I think you just have to be learning and you have to be challenging yourself, whether it's in that position or whether it's getting new accounts, whether it's instead of knitting with certain yarn, you're going to go and move on to the next step.

You have to keep figuring out how do you keep learning. I think what it boils down to.

I'm glad you said that because people are asking me what my mantra is in life and how I do what I do. And I just say, the very simplest terms is always be learning.

Totally. And it's so important. And you can learn that at any age.

I have this theory that so often as we grow up and get into higher level positions, we so often don't have a focus on that anymore. Instead it's focusing on mentoring and managing and that's all fine and really important. But, so I think that the happiest people today are actually the ones that lead with "Always be learning."

Natasha:

Thank you.

Kara Goldin:

I really do believe that.

Natasha:

I am incredibly happy because of that, honestly. There's not a day that I don't wake up that I feel like, oh, bored. No way. There's too much to know. Okay. Getting back to the book, you had mentioned that you had a $50,000 investment that you were willing to put on the line for this new company.

And my thought was, were you willing to go above that? Or are you like, this is it? This is what I'm going to invest and if we can't make it happen at this amount, It's over. What was your thought process over that?

Kara Goldin:

Yeah, that's a good question. I really was focused. I knew that it was going to cost me about that to actually get a product that I could actually take to try and get it on the shelf.

So that was my test amount. Truth be told we ended up spending a lot more money pretty quickly. I think that first year was a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Natasha:

Not balanced by revenue at all?

Kara Goldin:

Yeah, I mean to some extent. But we were testing and getting it on the shelf and it was selling. So we were able to reinvest, but so many components to it.

What I realized early on was that I was able to take on a lot of sweat equity and play that role. But I think for me, it was really, I realized that I didn't know what I didn't know. And I was like learning as I went. And so there were mistakes along the way, or even production mistakes that we just had to toss stuff out, or we didn't know how to produce shelf stable products so we had to throw out stuff.

Natasha:

I loved the story of your husband actually coming up. Like he's not a scientist, he's not an engineer. And he is in your kitchen figuring out how to make this bottling technique work.

Kara Goldin:

Here's an interesting story because he's still the chief operating officer of the company. Jumped in because his wife was spending money. And he thought it was a stupid idea. I think his intent initially to jump in was to convince me that it wasn't a great idea because when you've got the doubters and you've got somebody, whether they're related to you or not, or I should say when you've got doubts and then you hear the doubters, they're in a very interesting position and persuasive position, I should say at times when you're vulnerable, to be able to come in and actually tell you, "Yeah, you shouldn't do that."

And so I think that was really his tricky focus was to come in and do this. But unfortunately what he saw as he saw the bottles coming off of the line in our first plant in Chicago, when he said to me, "Oh, I get it now. You've been working in bits and bytes having been intact, and now you've got this physical product and that's why you want to do this product."

And I said, "No. It's because by producing a product that helps people drink water, then we can actually change health and so many people." And he thought about it and he's "Oh, I get it. Okay. Wow, that's really interesting."

He's a son of a doctor. So while he didn't have traditionally a science background, he was a liberal arts major, but he did work in all through high school and labs during research. And I think his frustration was that it was just so slow, right? To get research. It just takes a long time.

And so he thought, I don't know if I really want to do this long-term and he didn't want to go to medical school. I think primarily because his dad was bummed out about insurance and those aspects, not actually practicing medicine. So he went to law school and he didn't love being a lawyer. He hated actually doing time sheets. I remember when we were first married. He hated it.

Natasha:

Nobody likes them.

Kara Goldin:

Yeah, nobody told him that billable hours was just like, nobody mentioned that before he went to law school. And so then he went in-house counsel at Netscape, and that was better because he didn't have to do the billable hours.

But when I started this company, he was first of all, really curious and interested in kind of the problem and the solve. But one thing that I talk a lot about is, it's one thing to have an idea, and millions of people have ideas out there. Maybe some are crazy enough to go and launch a company from them.

But the ones that don't make it are typically the ones where you have no idea how to execute on something. I'm not saying you don't have all the I's dotted and T's crossed, but you don't really know and you don't really have this stamina, I think, to actually go try a lot of different things. But talent is so key and really looking at the problem.

I think a lot of people get super focused on going and hiring people that have lots of experience and they're going to go and wave their magic wand and solve all your problems. The thing is when you're not only launching a company, but you're also launching an entirely new category like we were doing.

There were so many aspects of it where you just need smart people who are passionate and you can jump in. And so his science background, and also just he's interested in really the details of it. When you look at our company today, not only the direct to consumer and some of the other stuff, but just the supply chain and just so many aspects around, for example, plastic, and we've reduced the plastic by 40%, he's worked on so much of that.

That is just, again, I understand it at a top level, but he's really passionate about it. And that's what you need. You need people who just want to sit there and do it every single day. I do not want to do that every single day. I can't not know about it, but he loves doing that super detailed work. And I think to some extent, being an attorney, he wouldn't have been able to articulate this, but he would say I hate law, but he hadn't figured out how to actually use his creative side.

He obviously in high school, was interested in like the lab work and doing kind of the bad stuff, but he had thought, okay, close that chapter, going this direction. And now he feels like he gets to play and do a lot of things.

Natasha:

Sounds like he's obsessed.

Kara Goldin:

A lot of hypothesis. Yeah. So anyway, it's a lot of fun.

Natasha:

Okay. So sunscreen, sanitizer, deodorant, water. What's next? If you don't know, I've got a list. So lip balm, skincare, makeup, clothing line. You're a brand, as you say, in the book, you've graduated from an idea to a company to a brand. You have this incredible platform. Maybe you can't say what you're working on.

Kara Goldin:

I don't know, we have lip balms already which are amazing. And like you said, we have sunscreens, we have deodorants. The beauty of Hint is we have all these different flavors in the water that we can actually use as scents. And so that's, what's so beautiful that once you get the core right, the actual product, the ingredients, and then you can continue.

Natasha:

It's so exciting. I use your deodorant, we have your sunscreen. I really should use it more often, but I don't really go out very much. But how much does that excite you that you have, if you so choose to, a platform to launch other categories?

Kara Goldin:

It's amazing. Like you said, 15 years later, it's a brand and it's a brand people trust.

And so the number of people who write to us on a daily basis, they enter through a different way. Sometimes people will have our sunscreen, there'll be at a friend's pool and they'll try the sunscreen for the first time. And maybe they weren't a hint water consumer before. Maybe they were drinking diet soda, or maybe vitamin water, or they just enjoy water.

Suddenly they're, "Oh, interesting. They have a sunscreen." And then they'll come back and they'll gain this trust and they'll go and try the other products. So I think it's fascinating. And part of our strategy around launching these other products is that, sometimes people aren't looking depending on the category. They're not looking, but because they like another category that a brand is doing, then they'll go in and try these other products that are also great products.

I will not launch a category that is not great. That the products aren't great in that category and that I don't feel really need fixing. I thought sunscreens and deodorant and hand sanitizers, that was my COVID project. Those all needed fixing. And I have a very good nose and taste. And so I just thought, why not? We should just go do this.

Also from the standpoint of, in terms of my role, I'll always be the founder and I'm the CEO, but I'm still super involved and have my hands in innovation. I'm really excited.

Natasha:

What is Kara's next need that you need but you don't really like? And so then you'll just go make it.

Kara Goldin:

Yeah and that was it. During COVID I was using hand sanitizers. I was way early and actually saying there's something wrong with these hand sanitizers out there. And then a bunch of them were recalled and I just said who, what in the world. And it's interesting. There were some hand sanitizers that were good hand sanitizers that smelled like lavender or some of them, there was like a mint one that I found and there were some other ones and they were fine.

But I also found that there were a lot of people, including speaking of my husband who doesn't want to use lavender hand sanitizers, I actually enjoy it. But he doesn't. And I think that there are some polarizing scents that are out there that you either like them or you don't.

And I thought, I just want grapefruit. I want lime. I want some of these other things that are really great. So anyway, people are obsessed with our hand sanitizers as well. And it was super fun to be able to especially launch a product, not actually going to the plants, but actually doing it through Zoom and seeing exactly what was going on there. It was super fun.

Natasha:

And look at that, just that you were able to launch your product through zoom and not go to the plant. That's another efficiency that you may have learned during this time that you wouldn't have considered possible before.

Kara Goldin:

Totally.

Natasha:

Silver lining. Okay. So nearing the end, I asked this of many of the people that I interview, as a learning moment for the people listening, have you considered your exit strategy or is this like build for life?

We've built this company from day one to really be a standalone business. Having said that, we have investors and so eventually they would like to be repaid. And then some, I think we've done the right thing in building a company that is a real company.

We're not like some Silicon Valley companies that don't have revenue and they get these crazy valuations for it. So I'm proud of what we've built. Just like the rest of our business, I think we built it in a way where we'll have options.

We got to hear the inside scoop on how Kara found her way to entrepreneurship, her new best-selling book and the product she's added to her brand.

If you'd like to know more about Kara, please go to our show notes where you're listening to this podcast.

For more information about me, go to my website, natashamiller.co. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe. Also, if you haven't done so yet, please leave a review where you're listening to this podcast now. I'm Natasha Miller and you've been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

Kara Goldin

Founder and CEO

Kara Goldin is the Founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., best known for its award-winning Hint water, the leading unsweetened flavored water. She has received numerous accolades, including being named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 Northern California and one of InStyle’s 2019 Badass 50. Previously, Kara was VP of Shopping Partnerships at America Online. She hosts the podcast The Kara Goldin Show. Her first book, Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters, was released October 2020 and is now a WSJ and Amazon Best Seller. Kara lives in the Bay Area with her family.